September 9, 2008 |

Allentown takes next step toward gaining full Main Street Program

Targets and Milestones were the focus of a meeting of the Allentown Community Development Corporation Aug. 28 at St. John Vianney parish center.

Members of the Allentown CDC board and the community reviewed a six-year strategy for neighborhood improvements developed by consultant Breen Masciotra from input given at previous meetings. In her plan goals were referred to as "targets" and ways of achieving them as "milestones."

The strategy will be part of an application for the first full year of the Main Street program that seeks to upgrade the business district of a community. Allentown is currently in a planning year.

In December Allentown CDC should learn if it has been accepted for the first year of the program and is eligible for $50,000 in funding.

An initial brainstorming session occurred July 8 and Ms. Masciotra's rough draft of the six-year plan was reviewed on Aug. 13.

One target for the plan is to improve business district lighting. Planned milestones would include working with Port Authority and Duquesne Light to increase wattage on light poles and to encourage business owners to add lighting through available fa├žade renovation programs.

Another target is to position Allentown as an affordable alternative to Downtown by updating property inventory and implementing a marketing plan that would include advertising the neighborhood via public transit.

Negative perception of Allentown could be changed by: promoting and broadcasting positive events; updating and advertising on web site; installing cameras on the street; and holding social events on Warrington Avenue, such as a music event in the senior high-rise courtyard.

Organizational capacity could be increased by: building a thorough database of business and property owners; holding regular Main Street committee meetings; and implementing consistent communication between organization and committee members.

Involvement in the organization could be increased by: developing an outreach plan that includes a door-to-door campaign; recruiting volunteers; and locating the CDC office in a neighborhood storefront.

Relationships with other neighborhood organizations could be strengthened by: continuing to participate in a Transit Revitalization Investment District planning study; participating in the 100th anniversary celebration of Grandview Park; and working with other Hilltop Main Streets to develop an annual event.

Other suggestions in the plan included: working with the city to cite all dilapidated properties; holding an annual open house for potential tenants and owners; creating a community mural on the Daily Mart building; using Graffiti Busters and district cleanups to reduce litter; and continuing the National Night Out event and increasing business participation for it.

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